Tuesday, January 31, 2017

FCC Drops Correspondence File Requirement For Public File

U.S. commercial broadcast stations will no longer need to retain copies of letters and emails from the public, according to RadioWorld.

The Federal Communications Commission has amended its public inspection file rules. Over the past year or two it has already been scaling back and revising longtime public file requirements, and moving the public file process almost entirely online. But the question of the correspondence file has been contentious and was a hangover from the end of the Thomas Wheeler-era FCC.

Now one of the first actions of the Ajit Pai FCC is to dump that provision too. The National Association of Broadcasters immediately reacted with strong support and noted the bipartisan nature of the decision.

The chairman said that there is “little, if any, connection between the correspondence file requirement and its purported goal of ensuring that a station serves its local community.” He said stations can still communicate directly with a station “by letter, email, or through social media” and that the public will continue to be able to file petitions or objections concerning a station licensee’s performance at the time the station files its renewal application.

Pai said the FCC is “fully ensconced in the digital age, but our rules still require many regulated entities to put a priority on pulp.” He thanked fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly for his work on the issue.

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